There is much debate about the benefits and risks of nicotine vapor. British researchers now declare the e-cigarette as an opportunity to make people and society healthier.
E-cigarettes. One thinks they are a devil’s toy, which is harmless, but makes teenagers dependent – and harms health with questionable aromas. The others see steaming as a sensible, viable way to finally stop smoking.
In a 200-page report, the Royal College of Physicians from London is now clearly on the side of e-cigarette supporters. E-cigarettes offer the opportunity to “radically reduce” the damage of smoking to society, explains the British medical organization. “This opportunity should be used.”
The epidemiologist John Britton and his colleagues point to the much lower risks of steaming. It is true that E-Cigarettes are not harmful to health. However, the consequences of long-term consumption are likely to be barely five percent of the damage caused by tobacco smoking.
Physicians have specifically investigated the situation in the UK. 2.6 million people there would consume e-cigarettes, the number of smokers would be just under nine million. The investigation showed that E-cigarettes were almost exclusively used by active or former smokers.
Also, surveys among British teenagers have shown that e-cigarettes are almost exclusively consumed by those who have already experimented with tobacco. There is no evidence that this increases smoking.
Conclusion of the researchers: E-cigarettes clearly served both the individual as well as society as a whole. They are a viable alternative to tobacco, the researchers write in an analysis in the journal “British Medical Journal“.
E-cigarettes contain a liquid mixture of propylene glycol and glycerin, which is mixed with nicotine and aromas. The liquid is heated electrically and evaporated. The drug contained in e-cigarettes like normal cigarettes nicotine causes little damage itself, argue the researchers.
Less toxic nicotine source
The problem is tobacco smoke with the carcinogens, the carbon monoxide and the thousands of other poisons generated during the combustion. These made smoking so harmful to health. As early as 1976, the physician Mike Russel had stated: “People smoke because of nicotine, and they die because of the tar.”
At least for those who are heavily nicotine-dependent, the British researchers recommend the e-cigarette as a nearly healthy alternative. Health damage to smoking could be significantly reduced by replacing cigarettes with a less toxic source of nicotine.
While the older e-cigarettes released only relatively low nicotine doses, newer devices were able to deliver the drug at similar speeds as cigarettes. In the UK, e-cigarettes are already the most frequently used means of quitting smoking.
Dangerous lifestyle product?
Peter Hajek, one of the UK’s leading experts on tobacco addiction and weaning, even believes that one day smokers will change to the electronic cigarette: “We’ve never had anything that could have been nearly as promising in the fight against tobacco.”
The clear positioning of the British Medical Association is at odds with statements made by, for example, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). There, you are warned against the steam and thinks it is a new lifestyle product that may bring young people closer to smoking.
“We caution you,” says Katrin Schaller, a tobacconist at DKFZ. One does not know whether the supposedly harmless e-cigarettes led to the tobacco consumption sooner or later. For smokers, electronic cigarettes may represent a viable alternative. “But they are not suitable for non-smokers and young people.”
Lack of evidence
According to Schaller, the problem is also that many sufferers also consume ordinary cigarettes alongside the e-cigarette. As long as their tobacco consumption is not reduced to zero, the health effect is marginal. As a matter of fact, the mortality rate would drop only when you completely quit smoking.
On top of that, there is some evidence, such as the question of whether e-cigarettes actually help to get rid of smoking. The medical safety of nicotine vapor is also not clearly established. Therefore Schaller, according to current knowledge, also declines to declare e-cigarettes as harmless.
Explicit warnings were already there before the flavors, which are mixed with the liquids for E-cigarettes. These were sold specifically to children and adolescents in flavors like menthol, vanilla, cherry or cotton candy – without nicotine. Even with normal use, the recommended thresholds for aromatics would be significantly exceeded, researchers at Portland State University had warned. Respiratory irritation is the result.